I am trying to make meaning, trying to find the “gift” in this coronavirus. I see the devastation it has brought, for sure. Three weeks ago, it got to my father, and it took him down quickly, with no mercy. We couldn’t even visit him and hold his hand in the hospital as he struggled to breathe; we buried him and mourned his loss, alone and disconnected from our family and friends. It was utterly heartless. And, unfortunately, it is a story shared by hundreds of thousands of others. Yet, with all the horrible loss and separation the coronavirus has wrought, there must be something of value coming too. I don’t want to miss it. What is it that COVID-19 is bringing us that may be in service to our greatest good, individually, as a human species, and as a planet?
Last week, I attended a talk entitled “When The Bough Breaks – Grief, Community and Rough Initiations” given by my mentor and teacher, Francis Weller. He is seeing the coronavirus as a “rough initiation.” For context, in healthy and intact cultures, one’s path through life is marked by threshold experiences, ritual initiations or rites of passage, that acknowledge our passing from one stage of life to another. These rituals give life meaning and welcome each of us to grow bigger, into our rightful role and place in our community. The initiation experience is marked by three unique and distinct stages. The first stage is severance: we are separated or severed from our everyday life, removed from what we know. We experience a radical dissolution of our fixed identity. The second stage is ordeal: we experience an intense individual hardship or ordeal that tests our very will to persevere, to live. The third stage is integration: there is a new awareness that we can never go back to where we were before. Something in us has changed and we have to grow bigger to fulfill our new role.
I think the world has been gently knocking, offering us humans many opportunities to pay attention, to grow up, to grow bigger than consumption and greed, individualism and inequity, planetary misuse and abuse. As we have not adequately answered a gentler call, a rougher invitation, one not so easy to ignore, is upon us. In this rough initiation, at least for me, I want to make sure to never go back to where I was before. I am ready and committed to become bigger than I ever thought possible. Please join me there.
What is it in me, in my relationships, and at Wild Earth, that is ready to change forever? Let’s not miss this opportunity to grow, together.
If these topics are of interest to you and you would like some more support related to befriending grief, I would invite you to Francis Weller’s outstanding book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. Francis also just released a new eBooK, titled, In the Absence of the Ordinary: Essays in a Time of Uncertainty.
In 2004, David co-founded and, today, is the Executive Director of Wild Earth, where he seeks to help regenerate healthy community culture and create opportunities for people to connect with themselves, each other and the Earth. Prior to founding Wild Earth, David worked as a wealth advisor on Wall Street for twelve years before realizing a life dream – fully sharing in the care and parenting of his three children, and creating a small family farm. Today, the Brownsteins raise dairy cows, goats, chickens, bees and vegetables in season. David also maintains an active counseling practice called Root Connections, where he focuses on helping individuals, couples, groups and business leaders identify and manifest their unique vision. More about David's work.